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Saints Alive! New Stories of Old Saints Kindle Edition
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1. Wheat of Lions (St. Ignatius of Antioch) Rome, c.107
2. Ariadne's Angels (St. Ariadne) Phrygia, c.117-161
3. The Informer (St. Cecilia) Rome, c. 177-250
4. The Governor's Eyes (St. Sabinus) Etruria, c.303
5. A Vision of Theodota (St. Anastasia) Illyricum, c.304
6. The Sword of Dioscorus (St. Barbara) Heliopolis in Syria, c. 304
7. Relics (St. Boniface of Tarsus) Rome, c. 306
8. The Fortieth Martyr (The Forty Martyrs of Sebastea) Armenia, 320
9. The Lure of Terenuthis (St. John the Dwarf) Egypt, c.390
10. The End of the Games (St. Telemachus) Rome, c. 404
11. Bishop Martin's Cloak (St. Martin of Tours) Gaul, c.407
12. The Penitent Pigeon (St. Pelagia & St. Nonnus) Antioch, Late 400s.
Some of the Saints will be familiar but few of the stories. Seddon has chosen to present lesser known stories for some saints and some lesser known saints. Each story entertains, and yet also challenges. And is that not what the Saints are supposed to do. Seddon also states: "These stories are not strict retelling of the lives of the saints involved and should not be read as such. They are, rather, literary creations, tales based upon an incident in the life of a saint. They do, however, contain as much factual detail as could reasonably be accommodated." This book was an amazing read and left me wanting to read more. Thankfully Seddon provides extensive notes and list of resources at the end of the book. I loved this book and have already read it twice and know I will read it again. I cannot give it a higher recommendation.
The British-born author is an adult convert to Roman Catholicism (from Anglicanism), a devout Christian and a serious student of Roman history, which furnishes the setting for his novel Imperial Legions, and for his unpublished story cycle about a time-traveling historian. Here, he combines those interests in a collection of twelve stories set in late Roman antiquity, in different parts of the Empire, all having as their central figures various historical saints -that is to say, ordinary Christian believers, both men and women, living by --and sometimes dying for-- their faith in a culture which, for all of its differences, has some significant similarities to our own. (One of those similarities is the prevalence of an ugly strand of murderous anti-Christian bigotry, as the current New Atheist slogan "Bring Back the Lions!" reminds us; stories like "Wheat of Lions" shows us events that aren't currently part of our experience in the U.S. --but easily could be in the future, and in the lifetimes of some of us.)
As with all historical fiction that uses actual people as subjects, the author employs imaginative reconstruction, invented dialogue, and some fictional characters and events. But he's faithful to the basic facts (sometimes scanty) as we can learn them from history and legend, weaving them into realistic vignettes as they might have happened. His introductory "About the Stories" note explains the principals underlying his craftsmanship, and the known facts and sources behind each story are set out in the notes at the end.
As always, Andrew's story-telling skills are impeccable. There's no sex or bad language in any of the stories, but some stories, like "Wheat of Lions" and "The End of he Games," reflect the sometimes grisly brutality of Roman society. But the violence is never gratuitous. As it usually is in real life will find much to entertain here, too, as well as food ffor thoughDifferent readers will pick different stories as their favorites; "The Penitent Pigeon" is one of mine. There aren't any that aren't well-written, though! The collection will probably appeal mainly to Christian readers who want to learn more about early Christian history through the painless medium of fiction. But open-minded non-Christians will find both entertainment and food for thought here as well; this is serious, plotted, positive fiction of the kind that could easily have been published and widely read in the general circulation magazines of the last century, when some of the greatest short-fiction writers in the history of the format were writing!